wwcitizen: (Face-Serious)
Today, we submitted our application for marriage!!
Application-1 ApplicationSmiles
We have been telling friends for at least 5 years that when it's legal in NJ, we're going to get married.  So: WE'RE GETTING MARRIED!!

1) For one, I never thought I would get married, even though Matt and I have been together for just shy of a decade:
2) I'm gay; never thought it would never be possible, though I used to fantasize about it.
3) I didn't think that I would ever want to settle down with someone - one person - for the rest of my life; this attitude came from my extensive years as a single man.
4) It didn't seem that NJ would provide marriage equality any time soon for us to get married here.
5) Neither one of us wanted to get married in another state (NY, CT, MA, etc.) and crossing into our home state, whose laws and/or constitution would render us divorced, unmarried, or legal strangers.  Prior to marriage equality, married same-sex couples from other states were not recognized in NJ as married and had to get a civil union or domestic partnership..

Then, all of a sudden - almost overnight, it seemed - it was legal for us to get married in NJ!!  We were on our way out of town when we got the news. Only two friends - a couple - called us to ask if we were going to hold to our promise.  And we both said, "YES!!  ABSOLUTELY!!  It's just that we're on our way out of town!"   We promptly went online to Amazon to purchase tentative rings for whenever our legal ceremony would happen.  We ordered three rings apiece, which we will wear interchangeably till our marriage celebration. Then we'll have real rings to give each other.  These interim rings will become Christmas ornaments or used at times when we don't care if we lose them or they get stolen.

Given the marriage application, licensing, and ceremony stuff here in NJ - that neither of us knew anything about - nothing was going to happen anyway for at least three days from the day we submitted our application. The news of NJ's new marriage equality came through just over 2 months ago, and we finally got our act together and submitted our application in our township this morning.  A friend of ours from down the hill was our application witness and we'll have two other friends be our ceremony witnesses.  The girl who worked on our application this morning seems to be family. She reminded me of Peppermint Patty, but prettier.

Thursday, I'm picking up the license from around the corner from our place.  Next week, we're getting married!!  It will be a simple civil ceremony at the courthouse in Hackensack (NJ - yes, the town in that Billy Joel song!) on Dec. 31.  A great day for New Beginnings!

We slowed our initial marriage gusto a bit when we heard that our governor withdrew his appeal to oppose the NJ Supreme Court's decision to allow marriages to begin. Our governor has tried everything possible to make marriage equality impossible in NJ; it has honestly been so embarassing to be the last mid-Atlantic state above the Mason Dixon Line to allow marriage equality. He even went on record to say that if his own child was gay, he would tell his child that s/he should not be allowed to marry the person of their choice.  So, initially we were afraid that we had to get married by the end of the year, so that if he appealed, we would stand with the throngs of married couples in a lawsuit against the governor.  But, thankfully, we didn't have to be put in that position and we considered waiting until the actual celebration simultaneously to make it legal.  But, the activist in me really wanted the "2013" date stamp on our license.

Frankly, I don't think anything spiritually or emotionally will change.  At a later date, we'll plan a celebration - perhaps in 2014 or 2015. No rush since the legal stuff will be done. It'll certainly be interesting to be able to file our taxes as a married couple. THAT will definitely be a change!! Plus, once all the legal stuff is done, I think I'll put Matthew on my health and auto insurance policies, since they're both less expensive than his.

Above all, we're VERY excited at this new stage in our lives.  We've been calling each other "husband" for years, but now it'll be HUSBAND!! OFFICIALLY! WOOHOO!!
wwcitizen: (Uuuuuuh)
Matthew and I were graciously invited by a friend of ours to speak at an LGBT rally against DOMA and Proposition 8 at Montclair State University in Montclair, NJ, a couple of weeks ago. The timing was perfect, since on the day we spoke (27-Mar-2013), the Supreme Court of the US (SCOTUS) was hearing arguments for an against DOMA that day and had heard arguments for and against California's Prop 8 the day before.

The speeches we wrote were not completely the speeches that came out, but the essences are here.  I spoke first and Matthew spoke second. What an exhilarating experience!  Three of our friends were there in real time and others have seen the initial video taken by one of those friends.  These videos below were done more professionally by a student at the university.  Enjoy, comment, and please forward these speeches to others who will benefit from them.  We are interested in becoming more and more active in these fights and would like many more opportunities to speak out against discrimination.



My original speech (behind the cut)... )
wwcitizen: (Airplane Travel)
Here's hoping we can get to this house (1619 Pine St):
Hasn't changed much since 1982, has it?  Just need to pick up the right suspenders.

Neither of us has ever been to Denver, although I've flown through. I have a friend from college out there, who's getting married there, a friend from grade school, and my pseudo sister-in-law (my b-i-l's sister) - what do you call those folks - the in-laws?

Anyway, looking forward to going out there. Also, hoping that we can run into [livejournal.com profile] zedsled whilst in town for at least a beer or martini!

Should be an interesting weekend.  I haven't seen the friend who's getting married except in FB photos since he moved out to Denver from DC.  His mother was my manager back in college at a store and I really liked her. Can't wait to see his sister and dad, either - they're a very nice family.  His mother really challenged me to think about things - even whilst at work - about where I was going, what my future would look like, and where I'd end up.  She totally knew that neither my friend nor I would have gotten married before we were 40.  Who knew my reason would be that marriage for me wouldn't be legal??! 

I'm really looking forward to a little Rocky Mountain High... in Colorado...


wwcitizen: (US - Gay Politics)
Since the passing of NC's Amendment One, I've been doing a LOT of research into states that allow certain rights to same-sex couples.  The HRC and Lamda Legal provide a TON of information that's, while helpful, remains outdated in light of recent attacks on gay rights across the nation. 

At least Illinois recognizes the importance to reflecting the evolving American social mores: Same-sex marriage supporters take their fight to Illinois courts

I wish more states and people would accept facts, educate themselves, learn from the past, and exert more compassion in their every day. It's disheartening for me daily to have to search, read, research, and get a picture of how unequal in our relationship's current status Matthew and I are throughout this country. It's ultra sad to know that prior to any vacations or trips to other states, we now more than ever have to find out which hospitals would allow visitation rights to each other at the very least.  This sort of information isn't listed on their websites, either - you have to call to see whether you'd be treated with respect and compassion or if even your legal documentation would be recognized at the hospital to make medical and/or financial decisions for each other.  Some people find this kind of info finding stuff to be demoralizing. 

I'm starting to find this type of "confrontation" on one level empowering. Empowering because it helps me make informed decisions about where we're going to spend our money and take our vacations. If a place doesn't recognize us or allow visitation in a hospital, then we won't recognize the place; we don't have to visit it.

On another level, it's just sad to have to hunt and peck around to find places that legally affirm us and our relationship.  "Oh, can we go there? No. How about here? Maybe... just don't get into legal trouble.  How about there? Nope - no visitation rights at the hospital without a PLETHORA of legal docs, which might still not be recognized or allowed as proof of our legal bond. Oh, we can go here!! They do recognize same-sex partnerships and allow hospital visitations, but the state doesn't currently have any laws against hate crimes; that means no PDA, including holding hands.  :-("

Family has little or nothing to do with our qualms or our burgeoning apprehensions to traveling to particular locations in the US (like NC, VA, or SC where my family might want to go on vacation).  One of my sisters, in fact, asked about our trip to Disney; Orlando, FL, as a city has specific provisions for same-sex partners, but the state doesn't recognize same-sex partnerships. An issue with a lesbian couple in Miami was the impetus for federal mandates of hospitals to allow same-sex partners to visit each other in the hospital.  In any of these places where my family would want to vacation, Matt couldn't go with me; I wouldn't be able to make any health-related decisions for him and that would break my heart. In NJ, we're afforded the "luxury" of greater civil rights.

I hate feeling that we are being forced into a NJ civil union when our ultimate desire is to be legally married.  It's unfair that we have to be put in that position. Elsewhere throughout the nation (not in NC now, since Amendment One, btw), if an opposite-sex couple had cohabitated as long as we have (8.5 years thus far!!), we'd enjoy a common law marriage.

Even still, throughout the US Southeast, Midwest, and parts of the Northwest, when we get our NJ civil union, it most likely will not be recognized in most of those states, including NC, SC, and VA. It doesn't have to be like this, but it's what we as a couple have to deal with. Same-sex couples don't have to go throughout this level of crap and take soooo many things for granted.
wwcitizen: (NC - Lighthouse)
Because NC Amendment 1 passed with the language that would restrict protections for all unmarried couples (straight or gay), the courts are free to interpret the amendment to deny any protections to unmarried couples (straight or gay). The following points are true and have NOTHING to do with how my friends and family in NC feel or voted about the issue. 

NC courts can legally deny Matthew and me the right to:
  • determine the disposition of either of our deceased partner’s remains (God forbid),
  • visit each other in the hospital in the event of a medical emergency,
  • make emergency medical decisions for either of us if either of us is incapacitated, and
  • make financial decisions for either of us if either of us is incapacitated.
NC's attorney general said Amendment 1's lack of clarity will result in a significant amount of litigation on many issues, which will be decided by courts for years to come.  NC courts can now interpret Amendment 1 to invalidate trusts, powers-of-attorney, wills, and end-of-life directives by one partner in favor of the other. 

These are reasons why Matthew and I cannot step foot in NC for vacations and holidays. We will not spend money there. We will not order goods and/or services from NC (that we expressly know come from NC).

This is about our civil liberties, our civil rights, our safety, and us as a couple of US citizens making a life together, "created equal, ... endowed by [our] Creator with ... [inalienable] Rights, ... among [which] are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

This has absolutely NOTHING to do with how any of my friends and family in NC have voted (even if ALL of them voted against the amendment, which I hope they didn't, but have no way of knowing).

This link opens a really useful article with an info graphic explaining state-by-state what rights are afforded the LGBT community.  Check it out, read up on it, be informed, and let's put our money where we're supported!  Let's go places we are supported and are safe!! 

I'm REALLY thankful that Matthew and I live in the US NE:
wwcitizen: (TARHEEL)
My home state has decided: They legislatively discriminate against gays. It's blatant, it's harsh, it's painful, and it's truly, truly sad. They were willing to sacrifice their families, seniors, children, single/unmarried women, and heterosexual domestic partners in order to serve up a double blow against the gay community. Same-sex marriage was already illegal in NC; domestic partnerships were not - now they are. The cascade effect of the broad-stroke wording of this amendment is the problem. There is no limit to the ramifications of this amendment socially, politically, and economically.

For as many LGBT folks that live in NC (it's fair to assume that there potentially almost 900K LGBT living in NC), this amendment was a referendum against them and our community - full stop.

Now's the time to work against that system. Now is a further uphill battle to tear down the amendment and overturn it.  Now is the time to boycott my home state. 

I encourage my community and all of those opposed to Amendment One living outside NC: Do not go to NC. Do not purchase goods from NC (as best you can). Do not promote NC. Do nothing that supports NC's economy.  Bank of America has already stated that they may have to move their headquarters out of NC.

It's not out of hate or anger that I'm calling for this boycott, even though NC has legislated hate and discrimination. This boycott is purely economically driven to show NC where their funding is coming from.  NC has chosen not to support our community and has legislated against us. Why should we support NC if we don't have to?  We've been boycotting Target for MUCH less!

Personally, Matthew and I cannot return to my home state because legally, Matthew and I are now legal strangers in NC.  We cannot return to NC until either the counties or cities we'd travel to (as across FL) nullify the amendment's effect or the amendment is overturned at its root.

We cannot feel safe in NC. We cannot rest in the knowledge that either one will be able to take care of our best interests if the other needs us for whatever reason while in NC.  We will not feel safe traveling to and vacationing in NC - as domestic partners and US citizens. 

If something were to happen to Matthew and he ended up in the ICU, the hospital could legally not allow me to visit him and he would be alone in a hospital in NC without his family; I would not be his legal family.  To NC Matthew and I are strangers, though we've been building a life together for over 8 years.  If he were to die in NC, I would not be able to be involved in any end-of-life decisions.  But that is a horrible thought.  Simply put, even if I used his ATM card, in the state's eyes, I would be committing theft.

It's a shame and it's painful, but it has to be done: BOYCOTT NORTH CAROLINA

Read this info about the legal implications of the amendment.

Wikipedia article about same-sex marriage - great information here that includes international scope.
wwcitizen: (Rainbow Flag)
Archie Comics CEO Jon Goldwater released a statement concerning the One Million Moms planned boycott of ToysRUs for carrying Life with Archie#16 in their stores:
“We stand by Life with Archie #16. As I’ve said before, Riverdale is a safe, welcoming place that does not judge anyone. It’s an idealized version of America that will hopefully become reality someday. We’re sorry the American Family Association/OneMillionMoms.com feels so negatively about our product, but they have every right to their opinion, just like we have the right to stand by ours. Kevin Keller will forever be a part of Riverdale, and he will live a happy, long life free of prejudice, hate and narrow-minded people.”

I don't even want to link to the articles because there are links to vicious, hate-filled emails to ToysRUs.  I sent this email to combat what the hate-mongering OMM group is doing.  It might be a little lame, but I got the idea from the OMM site and targeted the same guy they are. Feel free to copy/paste this email into your own (and tweak a bit as you see fit) if inclined to send him a note, as well. 

Email:  clay.creasey@toysrus.com
(click on the email address, it's pretty cool!!)

SUBJECT:PLEASE KEEP SELLING Archie Comics!!

"Dear Mr. Creasey,
I was extremely happy to learn that select Toys R Us stores are now selling 'Archie' comic books and especially the one with a same-sex wedding displayed on the front cover. The sentiments of the comic reflect my and my family's own belief that this world will eventually be as inclusive and hate-free as Archie's world portrays. 

We chose to shop at Toys R Us just last night (and spent over $150!) because your company is selling Archie Comics. Please, please, please keep selling "Just Married - Archie" comic books. You will have greater support and many more sales if you stand your ground and do not bow to pressure of anti-gay organizations to stop selling them. Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.

Best regards,
Stephen Lambeth" 
wwcitizen: (US - Gay Politics)
For those unaware of the ultra right-wing, Tea Party-backing, Bush-loving group of women One Million Moms, the funny part is that their Facebook fan page has only around 40,000 likes as of this posting. The first time I'd ever heard of One Million Moms was on Facebook. They posted this picture, which is not clear and I can't find it anywhere else on the web or on Macy's website for their fliers:

I've been holding back on an LJ posting on this particular issue simply because I don't want to give voice to One Million Moms, who I feel are helping in holding this country back from its true potential as a nation.

Their post stated "Sorry, not the best photo (but the best we have), and better than nothing...Macy's new Bridal Registry Ad." Granted, a weak start to more than 230 anti-gay and bloated religious comments, along with about 50 shares.

I thought, "I'll give this a go," and "liked" the page in order to comment on the post. By the time I commented, there were around 100 different comments already and this was my comment:

"You sound like terrible, hate-filled, and hateful mothers!! Granted, only 38k, not a million... I shudder to think of the gay children that God placed in YOUR care and households because there will be limited love in them - limited by hypocrisy, bigotry, spiritual myopia, and archaic theology. Open your minds and spirits to God's truths and relinquish your years of brainwashing.

You're the kinds of mothers under whose care 1000s of children commit suicide because they're gay. There is every possibility that your child has read this post, is gay, and could very likely consider suicide after reading about how his mother feels about her child. Consider the consequences of your words and hate.

For the record, God did create Adam and Eve. And Adam & Steve, Bonnie & Julie, Jane & Susie, Naomi & Ruth, and Nancy & Melonie. And you say you're Christians... children of God? Much like Anne Rice, confronted with people like you, I'm saddened that God accepts even YOU into our family. With you in the fold, I'd rather call myself simply a follower of Christ before saying I'm "Christian". You spew hatred and wickedness with such ease."

Of course within a couple of days, the owners of the page blocked me from the group so that I couldn't comment any longer and removed my comment. BUT, at least my comment was sent to at least 100 people who commented before me and possibly 100s more saw my comment before it was removed. One can only hope.

When Matt and I are finally able to get married legally in NJ, we're going to register at Macy's, of course.
wwcitizen: (At Puter)
It was surprising to discover that Amazon.com doesn't have "partner" or "domestic partner" as an option to select from their "Relationship" drop-down box in their Gift Organizer. Granted, they might have their headquarters in a state that allows same-sex marriage; there's also the philosophy of "Be the change you want to happen," as pointed out by my partner.

Still, I'm sending Amazon a note today to encourage them to add that option to the drop-down list. The gender drop-down already exists, so "husband" or "wife" isn't necessary. And, gay or not, it's an important distinction as even straight folks can have domestic partnership without getting married and being "husband" or "wife" to the other. :-)

(pssst... the title of this post implies that I have a beef with Amazon and a bone to pick with them...)
wwcitizen: (Rainbow Flag)
Faith in America today announced a state-wide campaign that will bring awareness about the harm caused to LGBT youth and families to the communities of every North Carolina legislator that votes to proceed with an anti-gay marriage amendment to state constitution.

The NC General Assembly could decide as early as tomorrow on whether to proceed with a vote that would amend the state constitution to ban gay marriage, despite the fact that state law currently recognizes only marriages between two people of the opposite sex.

"Going forward with this vote signals that the North Carolina General Assembly embraces the immense harm that religion-based bigotry places on the lives of this state's gay and lesbian citizens," said Brent Childers, executive director of the organization.

Childers said recent studies, from the American Psychology Association (APA) and one by the Centers of Disease Control have documented a link between anti-gay marriage amendments and emotional and psychological harm to gay and lesbian individuals. In the 2008 APA studies, lead researcher, Sharon Scales Rostosky, Ph.D., at the University of Kentucky, said emotional and psychological harm was "a direct result of the negative images and messages associated with the ballot campaign and the passage of the amendment."

"These studies only document what common sense tells us," Childers said. "Placing a moral and religious stamp of disapproval on someone's very being causes immense and lasting harm to individuals and society. Women, African Americans, Native Americans and interracial couples have all been targets of this vile form of bigotry in the past when religious teaching was misused to justify prejudice and discrimination. Those historical precedents of religion-based bigotry all have been judged as immoral. Yet, a group of ill-intentioned lawmakers want North Carolina to embrace that same form of bigotry today.

Childers said he is hopeful lawmakers will refrain from bringing such harm to North Carolina communities. He said he believes the majority of legislators do not agree with using misguided religious teaching to cause harm to innocent people, especially LGBT youth and families.

"We hope a majority of legislators will decide in favor of human dignity and equality rather than using their vote to bring harm to others for potential political gain or favor. If they come down on the side of causing harm to LGBT youth and families, they will not do so with impunity."

Childers said the organization will conduct public awareness campaigns in the communities of every legislator who votes to proceed with the anti-gay marriage initiative.

"The constituents of every legislator who votes to proceed with the anti-gay marriage initiative are going to learn how these elected officials are promoting a social and religious climate of hostility and violence toward innocent people and children. We plan to reveal to parents, business owners, church-goers and the kids in these legislators 'hometowns the heinous and immensely harmful form of bigotry and prejudice that these legislators are embracing."

Faith in America is a N.C.-based nonprofit organization which works nationally to educate the American public about religion-based bigotry, its harm to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals and its history of oppression toward other minorities in American society. Brent Childers, who himself as an evangelical once identified with the Religious Right and embraced religion-based bigotry toward the LGBT community, serves as its executive director.
wwcitizen: (Rainbow Flag)
Sunday, July 24th is the first day same-sex couples in New York will marry.

On Sunday, July 24th at 2:00 pm at Pier A Park in Hoboken, New Jersey - a symbolic location just half a mile from New York - Garden State Equality and Lambda Legal will hold a rally for marriage equality by the Manhattan skyline. Please join us and bring your family and friends to send the world (and Governor Christie!!) a message: New Jersey must be next.

Several notables will be there, including our host, Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer. This will be open mike: You will get a chance to speak to the world. You will also meet couples in the new lawsuit for marriage equality.

If you have an EQUALITY The American Dream t-shirt, please wear it. If you'd like to bring a homemade sign with whatever slogan you'd like, please bring it. If you are reading this [message], please [send] it to your family, friends, and colleagues.

EXTREMELY IMPORTANT DIRECTIONS - please read:

By PATH & NJ Transit: Pier A Park is adjacent to the Hoboken train station, Hoboken Terminal. When you exit, you'll see Garden State Equality volunteers.

By car: Drive to the parking garage on Second Street between River Street and Sinatra Drive. The garage is across the street from Pier A Park and is $6 for two hours.

With GPS or web directions: Plug in 120 Sinatra Drive, Hoboken. When you get there, make a left on Second Street to the garage. You'll see Garden State Equality volunteers.

Thanks [conveyed] from [everyone] at Garden State Equality and Lambda Legal.




Garden State Equality is New Jersey's largest civil rights organization, winning 212 LGBT civil rights laws at the state, county and local levels – a national record. The laws include America's strongest and most inclusive laws to combat discrimination, hate crimes and school bullying, as well as America's strongest transgender equality law.

Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.
wwcitizen: (Rainbow Flag)
I just signed the petition "URGENT: Court Deadline in DOMA Case – Contact Congress Today! " and wanted to see if you could help by adding your name.

The goal is to reach 100,000 signatures and your support is needed. You can read more and sign the petition here:

http://www.change.org/petitions/urgent-court-deadline-in-doma-case-contact-congress-today

Thank you!
wwcitizen: (Rainbow Flag)
It's interesting to me the things that stick out as memories from a trip. In Mexico, I could point to a million little things - even a gecko on the wall that reminded me of "our" geckos in Hawai'i - that gave me pause to think about life, our trip, our relationship, the blessing of being with friends, etc.. There are so many really good memories of that trip - and lots of excellent pictures that are on their way!

I could say that this next memory is a negative one, but in actuality, it made me a stronger person in an instant - this one instance at the Houston airport where we were unfairly treated. We were confronted with blatant discrimination. We were waiting in line with straight couples (boyfriends and girlfriends - we knew because we exchanged stories of our trips for 10-15 minutes) to re-enter the US. We noticed one couple after the other, couples with and without wedding rings, approach the border guards together to go through the re-entry process - together.

When we were next, we approached together. The border officer at the counter asked me to stand back.

Me: "We're together."
Counter Officer: "Are you a couple?"
Us: "Yes."
Line Officer (behind me), loudly: "Sir, please step back in line."
Me: "But, we're a couple traveling together."
Line Officer, loudly: "Do you co-habitate?"
Me, loudly (without malice or anger): "Yes, sir."

I had to speak loudly for him to hear me because he was standing behind other people in line.

Line Officer: "So, you live at the same address?"
Me, loudly: "Yes, sir."
Line Officer: "Are you married?"
Me, loudly: "Not yet, but God willing, soon."

The counter officer scoffed. Other Americans gasped and scoffed around me.

Line Officer: "Please step back in line, sir."

I complied. I was burning with indignation because I knew that straight couples who weren't married and most likely didn't "co-habitate" weren't interrogated in front of other people like that. Straight couples were allowed to approach the counter together. When Matt and I went to Germany and the Bahamas, we approached the border guards' counters together and no one said anything about it. Leave it to Texas to single us out.

After this brief exchange, Matt was asked about 10 questions at the desk that he's never been asked before. The questions he received were about his job, our finances, who pays for the house, who paid for the trip, what Matt's company was, why we were both unemployed, and on and on. Once I got there, I set my emotions aside to get through and back in the country without trouble. All I wanted to do was get home.

Once we were through, I asked Matt on the way to customs, "So, if I had said we were married, because our passports can't state we're legally married, those guys would have thought we were lying. It can't state we're legally married on our passports because same-sex marriages (or civil unions) aren't recognized federally. So, even then, we would possibly have been interrogated separately anyway. Would we have to cart around our marriage license to fucking prove that we had been married legally in MA, IA, CT, VT, DC, ME, CA, or NH?? We could have legally gotten married in Argentina, Spain, Denmark, the UK, or Canada and other countries, but that wouldn't have been recognized by the US federal law, either."

At the outset, the situation really pissed me off. It made me so angry such that I was almost willing to ask them to interrogate me to make a point, but more than that, I was just ready to be home. So, I continued to mull over the issue and realized that I felt stronger as a person as a result of speaking my mind the way I did. I made a stand, but exhibited peace. Others around me (who I ignored) noticed my reaction, which wasn't the typical all dramatic reaction people see from homosexuals as we're depicted on TV. I feel that I made a strong example of a level-headed person striving to be treated fairly and equally. We didn't point out to anyone - until now - that our straight counterparts were treated better and more fairly and equally than we were.

Knowing who I am is vital. Being a strong person is important. My willingness to vocalize who I am in the face of public, open discrimination is critical to me moving myself forward. Hopefully, I was an example to someone else in that crowd who might not have the courage to do what I did loudly, but peacefully, on their own. That situation steeled me. I really like that word, "steel" in this context because it makes me feel (almost) invincible!
wwcitizen: (Champagne Glass Toast)
During Tommy and Brian's wedding ceremony in Mexico, the officiant spoke out the hand ceremony. It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever heard at a wedding and cut deep into my heart and soul as she read it - especially because Tommy and Brian were facing each other holding hands - especially because Matt and I were holding hands watching, listening intently. Our grip got harder and tighter as words struck our heart strings.

Here is the version that Brian and Tommy used on the beach that wonderful day:

THE HAND CEREMONY:
These are the hands of your best friend, full of love for you, holding yours on your wedding day
These are the hands that will scratch your back when you have an itch you can’t reach
These are the hands that will help decorate your Christmas tree
These are the hands that will dial your number just to say hello – when you’ve been missed throughout the day
These are the hands that, at times, will want to strangle you
These are the hands that will passionately love and cherish you through the years
These are the hands that will hold you for comfort and tickle you for joy
These are the hands that will wipe the tears from your eyes
These are the hands that will tenderly hold your children
These are the hands that even when wrinkled and aged will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch
wwcitizen: (Airplane Travel)
Friends of ours, Tommy and Brian, have been together for 9+ years* (as of Cinco de Mayo*). They're really cool, fun guys. We all four met on a bowling league at Chelsea Piers. Tommy's originally from Rochester, NY, and Brian is from Yadkinville, NC. Brian was surprised to know that I knew of Yadkinville cuz it's a small town.

Last year around Christmas, Matt and I witnessed Tommy propose to Brian on stage at the Duplex during their cabaret act called, "The Last Piece of Cake" (this was the farewell performance of their years-long cabaret). They invited us to participate in all aspects of their engagement, the bachelor party, and their wedding; we were really honored and excited to consider going to Mexico. I love Mexico and Matt had never been. We both love Tommy & Brian, and the friends of theirs we'd met along the way were just like them: real, big-hearted, awesome personalities, and different from anyone else we'd ever met. There was nothing holding us back - even being unemployed! In all my recent interviews, I made sure that the week of Oct. 14-22 would be blocked out for me (I did get a consulting Project Mgt job, but that's a different post).

We arrived on Thursday. On the way to the resort hotel (The Tropicana), our driver was nice enough to stop for us to buy some water. While Matt napped, I sat at the bar poolside and had a couple of shots of tequila (Don Pablo Reposado) coordinating with Brian to meet up with everyone on the beach. The resort was substantial, beautiful, and clean. I made the rounds of introductions of folks I hadn't met before. I got many salty, wet hugs from people I knew or who I hadn't met, but were excited to meet me. How absolutely wonderful! The stage was getting set for the entire weekend. We had the best, most unique time for 7 days straight.

Great planning by the couple (eh-hem, by Brian), great drinks, excellent food, no infections or sickness (at least with us!), awesome scenery, and beautiful ceremony. The Friday night "Welcome to Mexico" party was a HOOT with a mariachi band to boot - sponsored by Tommy's Uncle Ralph. The pre-wedding party Saturday night at the Villa Rosa (where the wedding party stayed) was really relaxing and fun with a hilarious game of Celebrity. The day of the wedding started out with pancakes with the Rochester crowd, while the wedding party took off to the destination - Las Caletas. As there aren't roads to Las Caletas, about 10 of us later took an hour party boat ride to Las Caletas. It was so much fun! Brian and Tommy (in line with their theatrical creativity) had a script and voiceover to begin our wedding adventure. They played such hits as Titanic, the Poseidon Adventure, and The Love Boat theme. We were tanked by the time we arrived and had been dancing for a while (as you see here).




Las Caletas is the previous home of John Huston, who directed and filmed Night of the Iguana at Las Caletas. Huston also directed The African Queen, The Maltese Falcon, and The Bible: In The Beginning among many other movies. For a wedding, Brian and Tommy could not have picked a more beautiful, secluded, relaxed, and elegant place. Every detail was covered, down to the sandalwood fans for everyone on their seats.




Apparently, the entire wedding party had worked hard to hold their emotions together all day long. All day long, that is, till they locked eyes on me. I always get choked up at weddings. Being at this marriage of two beautiful people with so much love and joy between and around them really touched me deeply. Matt was crying, Dara (another North Carolinian pictured above) behind me was bawling and Brian started crying when they saw me: a big blubbering bear, crying his eyes out. Later on that evening, I heard all about it: "Well, I was holding it together until I saw THIS one (pointing at me) shaking." "Oh, yeah... and I look at Steve... he had STREAMS of tears running down his face when I got to the bottom of the stairs and I lost it." Even Dara (spoken as Blanche Devereaux) said, "Well, weddings always get to me anyway, then I saw Steve and Matt just tearing up and starting to shake, well, I just lost it, too!" So, take note, if you would rather keep your tears in check and don't want to show your emotions at your wedding, don't invite me! LOL

The dinner was delicious Mexican food above a cliff where waves crashed below. The party, music, and dancing were fun, and the boat ride back to the marina was like none other! Lots of pictures, laughs, hugs, and booty shaking. We had never been to a destination wedding. We'd never been to a gay wedding. It was such a deeply memorable experience. Neither Matt nor I had been around so many friends and family who were so real, honest, loving, and self-giving to two beautiful people, Tommy and Brian.

Everyone there wanted them to get married and be happy together.





There are many more stories to be told of the week in Mexico, but this post is dedicated to Tommy's and Brian's wedding experience. Matt and I were so touched and honored to have been asked and blessed to be able to participate in welcoming Brian and Tommy into their marital bliss.

*Corrected timelines
wwcitizen: (Laughing Bear)


One day a father gets out of work and on his way home he suddenly remembers that it's his daughter's birthday. He pulls over to a Toy Shop and asks the sales person, "How much for one of those Barbie's in the display window?"

The salesperson answers, "Which one do you mean, Sir? We have: Work Out Barbie for $19.95, Shopping Barbie for $19.95, Beach Barbie, Disco Barbie, Ballerina Barbie, Astronaut Barbie, and Skater Barbie all for $19.95. The Divorced Barbie is $265.95."

The amazed father asks, "It's what?! Why is the Divorced Barbie $265.95 and the others only $19.95?"

The annoyed salesperson rolls her eyes, sighs, and answers: "Sir, Divorced Barbie comes with Ken's Car, Ken's House & Boat, Ken's Furniture, Ken's Computer, one of Ken's Friends, and a key chain made with Ken's balls.
wwcitizen: (AnxiousFace)
We've been boycotting Sonoma County, CA, for months by not buying wines from there (not easy to do!) because of the mistreatment of an elderly gay couple. The court case was finally settled on July 25th with pretty good results, but the entire outcome for the couple (who'd been together for 20+ years) was so sad. Not sure if our and others' boycott of Sonoma County products was helpful in the process, but we like to think it was. We are lifting our boycott of Sonoma County wines due to the fruitful outcome of the settlement. BTW, "the settlement also prohibits the public guardian's office from moving people against their will."

However, now Target is supporting opponents of the LGBT Community and specifically opponents of gay marriage, which, as everyone that knows me knows we support same-sex marriage (the terminology is unimportant, but the equal civil rights and federal & state benefits are important). We'll be boycotting Target now.

The substance of the issues that sprung up in Sonoma represent the need for same-sex marriages or civil unions (whatever they end up being called) across the country. A business that supports candidates that oppose same-sex marriage should not be financially supported by the LGBT community.

Out of the 308 million Americans estimated by the 2010 census bureau, there are roughly 5 million Americans (using 1.5% as based on earlier estimations) who acknowledge themselves as LGBT. If every one of the 5 million people spends $100 a month at Target, then we are supplying Target with $500 million per month to spend as they like. If, however, we decide to boycott any specific company, like Target, and remove that $500 million we spend with them in a month, we send them a distinct message that we don't like how they're using our money!

Just so companies realize, the US Gay Buying Power is estimated at between $732 and $734 billion for 2010. Wake up people! Money talks!

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Stephen Lambeth

May 2017

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